The Symphony: Most visitors to Ash Meadows NWR stop at Crystal Reservoir, the 77 acre water feature at the heart of the refuge. Only a few visit Peterson Pond, the smaller impound located a few miles away in the refuge’s northwestern section. This post highlights the symphony of wildlife that plays every morning of the spring season at the smaller pond. Water features are a favorite location for a nature recordist because they are a consistent source of sound. A pond will attract and hold wildlife that is loud, variable and predictable. However, the reservoirs at this particular refuge bring to light a contradiction about what it means to be natural and wild. Both reservoirs are man-made, unnatural features. The waters of Ash Meadows attract not only wildlife but humans, too. For good or for worse, it seems that man has an innate need to tinker with what’s around him. For a millennium the oasis saw very little alteration. About 50 years ago, that all changed. For a brief period of only about 20 years, man introduced heavy machinery and altered the land for the purposes of mining and agriculture. He drained wetlands, stripped riparian areas, channeled and dammed streams, and, worse still, introduced numerous invasive species. The flora and fauna suffered, some species even to the point of extinction. Fortunately, for the past 30 years, that activity has ceased. Today the scars of the past remain, but some of the surviving wildlife adapt, in some cases thrive, and in other cases still suffer from the ill effects. Man thinks he’s at the forefront of the restoration process, rebuilding the land and battling the constant menace of invasive species. Eventually, nature reclaims its own.,
Listen to the posted soundtrack with headphones and the stereo imaging becomes very apparent. Yellow-headed Blackbirds are the dominate species in this four minute sample of a 42:00 minute recording.
I like to think that their call represents the string section of the opus, if you will. Back and forth they call, reminding me of a call and response arrangement between violins, violas and cellos. In the background, the drumming of the Ruddy Duck and the squawk of the American Coot provide accompaniment. Occasionally, you can hear the bassoon-like drone of the American Bittern and the flute-like chatter of a Marsh Wren. This beautiful symphony is performed every morning during the spring season. The ticket is free. All you have to do is show up.